We have probably all experienced times where we stutter over words or repeat a word within a sentence. But when your child starts exhibiting stuttering, you may start wondering, "is that normal?" or "do we need to see a speech therapist?".
What is Stuttering?
Stuttering typically begins between the ages of 2-6 years old. Many children can go through a short period of time (less than 6 months) during which they have disfluencies or stutter. When a Speech Language Pathologist is evaluating or working with a child who stutters, there are a few types of stuttering that we see.
1) Repetitions: these can either be part of a word (I see the b-b-ball) or a whole word (But-but-but I don't see it)
2) Prolongations: where a sound is extended (Ssssssometimes I play basketball)
3) Blocks: where there is a long pause before being able to say a word that is sometimes accompanied by tension in the body/face and built up air pressure in the mouth ([PAUSE] I don't like to play)
Along with these types of stuttering, sometimes children will exhibit tension in their face, hard blinks, or various body movements along with a disfluency.
Stuttering can vary from day to day Sometimes when children are excited or in high pressure situations, this can increase the frequency of their stuttering or disfluencies.
When to see a Speech Language Pathologist?
Research has sown that there are risk factors when determining if stuttering may be developmental or something to seek help from a Speech Language Pathologist. If you answer yes to the bullets below, you should contact an SLP for further evaluation.
disfluencies last longer than 6 months
stuttering starts after 3 1/2 years old
family history of stuttering
boys are 3 times more likely than girls to exhibit stuttering for more than 6-12 months
stuttering increases in frequency
your child has another speech and language difficulty (not saying certain sounds, short sentence length, difficulty understanding verbal directions)
your child is aware of their stuttering and gets frustrated when trying to talk or tries to avoid talking
What can I do to help my child?
1. Do not interrupt your child when they are speaking or try to finish the word they are stuttering on.
2. Show your child with your face and body language that you are listening.
3. Do not rush your child when they are speaking, give them the space and time to communicate their ideas/thoughts.
4. Try to model and use slower speech, but not so slow that it sounds or feels unnatural.
5. Seek help from a Speech Language Pathologist.